Alter Self Cheat Sheet


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So I spent a bit making a sheet that shows all the creatures that can be chosen for alter self and what they have to offer as far as racial abilities you gain (darkvision, swim speed, natural attacks etc.).
If you see any mistakes or something that should be added let me know.

Alter Self Cheat Sheet


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Looks good, nice work Xedrek!


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Thank you - nice work!


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Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Xedrek wrote:

So I spent a bit making a sheet that shows all the creatures that can be chosen for alter self and what they have to offer as far as racial abilities you gain (darkvision, swim speed, natural attacks etc.).

If you see any mistakes or something that should be added let me know.

Alter Self Cheat Sheet

You can't gain 120 foot dark vision as the spell limits you to 60.

The following is what you can get from the spell text

When you cast this spell, you can assume the form of any Small or Medium creature of the humanoid type. If the form you assume has any of the following abilities, you gain the listed ability: darkvision 60 feet, low-light vision, scent, and swim 30 feet.

Small creature: If the form you take is that of a Small humanoid, you gain a +2 size bonus to your Dexterity.

Medium creature: If the form you take is that of a Medium humanoid, you gain a +2 size bonus to your Strength.


I applaud the work, but I would note that it is exceedingly questionable to include alternate racial traits as features that can be acquired by this spell. Polymorph rules explicitly prohibit application of templates - these would be along similar lines.


Majuba wrote:
I applaud the work, but I would note that it is exceedingly questionable to include alternate racial traits as features that can be acquired by this spell. Polymorph rules explicitly prohibit application of templates - these would be along similar lines.

I don't see why subraces with alternate traits wouldn't work. For instance, 1/2 orcs of the feral subrace has the forest walker and the toothy traits. If the DM allows the alternate traits for PC's, I can't see a reason the spell can't copy it.

Grand Lodge

Thanks for posting this :-)


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
graystone wrote:
Majuba wrote:
I applaud the work, but I would note that it is exceedingly questionable to include alternate racial traits as features that can be acquired by this spell. Polymorph rules explicitly prohibit application of templates - these would be along similar lines.
I don't see why subraces with alternate traits wouldn't work. For instance, 1/2 orcs of the feral subrace has the forest walker and the toothy traits. If the DM allows the alternate traits for PC's, I can't see a reason the spell can't copy it.

The spell can't copy it because it's not listed in the spell description or under the polymorph subschool.

The rules are clear in this regard.

Alter self simply cannot grant darkvision beyond 60 feet (or see in darkness), cannot duplicate templated creatures (such as lycanthropes), and cannot grant alternate racial traits that are not covered under the spell description.

Turning into a half-elf with darkvision alternate racial trait might work though since such humanoids do exist and it is listed in the spell description. Some GMs might not allow it though, ruling that such representatives are not "a generic member of that creature's type."


Ravingdork wrote:
graystone wrote:
Majuba wrote:
I applaud the work, but I would note that it is exceedingly questionable to include alternate racial traits as features that can be acquired by this spell. Polymorph rules explicitly prohibit application of templates - these would be along similar lines.
I don't see why subraces with alternate traits wouldn't work. For instance, 1/2 orcs of the feral subrace has the forest walker and the toothy traits. If the DM allows the alternate traits for PC's, I can't see a reason the spell can't copy it.

The spell can't copy it because it's not listed in the spell description or under the polymorph subschool.

The rules are clear in this regard.

From Alter Self = darkvision 60 feet, low-light vision, scent, and swim 30 feet.

From polymorph school = you gain any of the natural attacks of the base creature.

So I fail to see your point. What again prohibits alternate traits that grant the above? The spell says "you can assume the form of any Small or Medium creature of the humanoid type". Nothing limits those humanoids to ONLY using the monster manual listings. If another player character uses those alternate traits are you saying that you wouldn't be able to copy them? Are they no longer humanoids because they are PC's???

I can't make catfolk claws but I could make lizardfolk ones? IMO that makes NO sense.

EDIT: I see you edited your post before I finished mine. With the extra you added, I can agree with you, though I can understand lycanthropes getting on the list. Several places list the monsters without saying anything about the template. (just listing monster stats)


LazarX wrote:
Xedrek wrote:

So I spent a bit making a sheet that shows all the creatures that can be chosen for alter self and what they have to offer as far as racial abilities you gain (darkvision, swim speed, natural attacks etc.).

If you see any mistakes or something that should be added let me know.

Alter Self Cheat Sheet

You can't gain 120 foot dark vision as the spell limits you to 60.

The following is what you can get from the spell text

When you cast this spell, you can assume the form of any Small or Medium creature of the humanoid type. If the form you assume has any of the following abilities, you gain the listed ability: darkvision 60 feet, low-light vision, scent, and swim 30 feet.

Small creature: If the form you take is that of a Small humanoid, you gain a +2 size bonus to your Dexterity.

Medium creature: If the form you take is that of a Medium humanoid, you gain a +2 size bonus to your Strength.

The polymorph spell descriptor overrides that

If the form you choose grants these benefits, or a greater ability of the same type, you gain the listed benefit. If the form grants a lesser ability of the same type, you gain the lesser ability instead.


Ravingdork wrote:
graystone wrote:
Majuba wrote:
I applaud the work, but I would note that it is exceedingly questionable to include alternate racial traits as features that can be acquired by this spell. Polymorph rules explicitly prohibit application of templates - these would be along similar lines.
I don't see why subraces with alternate traits wouldn't work. For instance, 1/2 orcs of the feral subrace has the forest walker and the toothy traits. If the DM allows the alternate traits for PC's, I can't see a reason the spell can't copy it.

The spell can't copy it because it's not listed in the spell description or under the polymorph subschool.

The rules are clear in this regard.

Alter self simply cannot grant darkvision beyond 60 feet (or see in darkness), cannot duplicate templated creatures (such as lycanthropes), and cannot grant alternate racial traits that are not covered under the spell description.

Turning into a half-elf with darkvision alternate racial trait might work though since such humanoids do exist and it is listed in the spell description. Some GMs might not allow it though, ruling that such representatives are not "a generic member of that creature's type."

Missed the bit on the template.Will fix that.

I did leave a special note about the see in darkness to leave it up to the GM and that it is a supernatural ability and not specifically darkvision.
The racial traits are another thing I would like to leave to the GM and believe it to be a pity to leave out of the list when it could just as easily be ignored

EDIT: Fixed

Also @Graystone, Yeah lycanthropes are listed as just straight up creatures in the bestiary but the template says it is acquired or born with it. Devilbound creatures are the same way with an actual devilbound creature in the bestiary but it being an obvious template so i took them off

Scarab Sages

You should notate small/medium size. It makes a difference depending on if the character is dex or str based.

I know when playing my dervish dance kensai, I take goblin over, say orc, specifically for the dexterity, ac and to hit bonuses.


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Xedrek wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Xedrek wrote:

So I spent a bit making a sheet that shows all the creatures that can be chosen for alter self and what they have to offer as far as racial abilities you gain (darkvision, swim speed, natural attacks etc.).

If you see any mistakes or something that should be added let me know.

Alter Self Cheat Sheet

You can't gain 120 foot dark vision as the spell limits you to 60.

The following is what you can get from the spell text

When you cast this spell, you can assume the form of any Small or Medium creature of the humanoid type. If the form you assume has any of the following abilities, you gain the listed ability: darkvision 60 feet, low-light vision, scent, and swim 30 feet.

Small creature: If the form you take is that of a Small humanoid, you gain a +2 size bonus to your Dexterity.

Medium creature: If the form you take is that of a Medium humanoid, you gain a +2 size bonus to your Strength.

The polymorph spell descriptor overrides that

If the form you choose grants these benefits, or a greater ability of the same type, you gain the listed benefit. If the form grants a lesser ability of the same type, you gain the lesser ability instead.

I think its the other way around. The spell description overrides the polymorph spell descriptor so you go with what the spell indicates. Otherwise spells don't really make sense. The school descriptor is the base for the spell and the spell description sits on top of it.


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Yes Aaron.

Xedrek wrote:

The polymorph spell descriptor overrides that

If the form you choose grants these benefits, or a greater ability of the same type, you gain the listed benefit. If the form grants a lesser ability of the same type, you gain the lesser ability instead.

Listed Spell benefit: 60 ft. darkvision

Form grants greater version: 120 ft. darkvision
Listed benefit gained: 60 ft. darkvision

You gain the least of the spell or the form, not the greater and not "whatever the form gives". If that were so, there would be no need to list darkvision distances or movement speeds at all.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Every lycanthrope I've ever seen has clearly been the result of the template being applied to a humanoid with class levels.


Alter self references the beastiary stuff for creatures for the most part there is no basis to justify using Pc variants with alter self. Even less to suggest it allows stuff like 120' dark vision.

Liberty's Edge

Alter Self has very specific limitations of what it does grant;

Darkvision: 60'
Low Light Vision
Scent
Swim 30

Plus the basic stat boost depending on size.

If you compare it to the much more powerful Monstrous Physique, you do not even get Darkvision 90 until MP 4, a level 6 spell vs the level 2 Alter Self. Similarly you don't gain any resistance types until MP 4 either.


Mojorat wrote:
Alter self references the beastiary stuff for creatures for the most part there is no basis to justify using Pc variants with alter self. Even less to suggest it allows stuff like 120' dark vision.

Please point out where the spell tells you to look at the bestiary. All I see is it limit you to humanoids and the race section list many of them. As I asked above, if you had another humanoid PC with one of the variant abilities, would you say I couldn't use this spell to copy him? Does his being a PC stop him from being humanoid?

Ravingdork: I'd say it is quite the reverse. Using an online source to review humanoids lists lycanthropes and doesn't say anything about a template. It's only when you pull out the actual book do you see the small section about the template.

Fomsie: You forgot that polymorph spells allow natural weapon use too.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Every lycanthrope is a templated creature. To say otherwise is just being obtuse.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Be very wary when trying to apply "logic" to magic.

Why? It's magic.

Just saying.


Ravingdork wrote:
Every lycanthrope is a templated creature. To say otherwise is just being obtuse.

It sounds like you failed to read my posts. I said it was easy to miss that it was a template race because in makes no mention of it in the individual monster listings. If you look up werewolf, it makes no mention of a template. [ http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/monsters/lycanthrope.html#_lycanthrope-werewolf ]

So once again, I'll say it's easy to overlook that it's a template creature NOT that it it's one.

EDIT: I see I made a mistake. The PRD werewolf actually does have the template part attached. I should have posted the section on weretigers, wereboars and were bears [ http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/additionalMonsters/lycanthrope.html#_lycanthrope,-weretiger ] instead.


Why would you want to become a lycanthrope anyway? Just become a troglodyte if you want the extra natural attacks.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

What's the argument in favor of Alter Self giving natural attacks at all? It's a second level spell, it provides very specific benefits. Natural attacks are not on the list of what it grants.


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Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:
What's the argument in favor of Alter Self giving natural attacks at all? It's a second level spell, it provides very specific benefits. Natural attacks are not on the list of what it grants.

Scroll on down to the polymorph subschool.

Relevant text:

"Your base speed changes to match that of the form you assume. If the form grants a swim or burrow speed, you maintain the ability to breathe if you are swimming or burrowing. The DC for any of these abilities equals your DC for the polymorph spell used to change you into that form.

In addition to these benefits, you gain any of the natural attacks of the base creature, including proficiency in those attacks. These attacks are based on your base attack bonus, modified by your Strength or Dexterity as appropriate, and use your Strength modifier for determining damage bonuses."


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Incidentally, the natural attacks are one of the reasons I like the Boggard for Alter Self. The tongue attack isn't sticky, but it does have reach, making it useful for touch spells.


Wrong John Silver wrote:
Why would you want to become a lycanthrope anyway? Just become a troglodyte if you want the extra natural attacks.

It's not just for the attacks. You have to check Darkvision: 60', Low Light Vision, Scent and Swim 30'. A wereboar with 2 non-limb attacks (bite and gore) looks pretty sweet to someone using a big weapon 2-handed and the low-light and scent are nice too. It's too bad it doesn't work...


Artanthos wrote:

You should notate small/medium size. It makes a difference depending on if the character is dex or str based.

I know when playing my dervish dance kensai, I take goblin over, say orc, specifically for the dexterity, ac and to hit bonuses.

They are already separated into two groups. The small creatures are the top chart and medium the bottom. The charts are headed


Reread polymorph and noticed I missed a wee bit of wording. Darkvisions have been fixed.


Much obliged. Dot.


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Plan to come out with more stuff. All will also be hosted here
http://dmastersasuke.wix.com/pathfindercheatsheet


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

This is one of the areas that I think players could really utilize if they did leg work. Like summoning, players efforts in these areas really show through.

Shadow Lodge

I've always struggled to use this spell and always wanted to make great use of it. Thanks for the guide Xedrek!

Scarab Sages

The Undine (Player race here: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/races/other-races/featured-races/arg-undine )

Gives you darkvision 30 feet and a swim speed of 30 feet. Pretty sweet deal, and you get to keep your legs (unlike a merfolk) so you can still walk on land. Might want to add it to the list.

Other than that, sweet, thanks for writing this up, I will probably end up using it for my alchemist.


Thanks for working your butt off for my benefit!


That's great and useful work, so first of all thanks for sharing it! :)

I suggest making this a spreadsheet for easier filtering, adding natural attack damage and original source book for the creature.

I have gone ahead and did it myself, if you give me permission to use your work as a base I will share it with the public.


Just checked in balacertar. Yeah you're good to go. even though a few months may have some lost interest


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I have done the sheet in Google spreadsheet.

Xedrek, if you send me your email I can grant you full edit privileges.

Alter Self Helper: http://goo.gl/U0XMCM
Filters are active so you can sort and filter by creature size and bestiary resource.

Shadow Lodge

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VampByDay wrote:

The Undine (Player race here: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/races/other-races/featured-races/arg-undine )

Gives you darkvision 30 feet and a swim speed of 30 feet. Pretty sweet deal, and you get to keep your legs (unlike a merfolk) so you can still walk on land. Might want to add it to the list.

Alter Self can't be used to turn into native outsiders, such as undines. (Note it's not uncommon to houserule that Undines and other ARG native outsiders are humanoids.)


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For a couple of years I've always known the best choice for small and medium were the Charau-ka and the Sasquatch respectively. Glad this list is out there for others to better find good combinations.

Grand Lodge

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I appreciate all the work you've put into this. I've been looking into this as well for a melee Shaman. (Shamans with the Shapeshifting Hex can use Alter Self as a Su ability, starting at Level 2.)

Have you considered also the Sewer Troll (from the Monster Codex)? It's one of the few humanoids w/ the giant subtype that fits the Small/Medium size requirement of Alter Self, but I believe it works. And look what all you get: Darkvision, Low-light vision, Scent, and 3 natural attacks. Some pretty juicy stuff.


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EvilTwinSkippy wrote:

I appreciate all the work you've put into this. I've been looking into this as well for a melee Shaman. (Shamans with the Shapeshifting Hex can use Alter Self as a Su ability, starting at Level 2.)

Have you considered also the Sewer Troll (from the Monster Codex)? It's one of the few humanoids w/ the giant subtype that fits the Small/Medium size requirement of Alter Self, but I believe it works. And look what all you get: Darkvision, Low-light vision, Scent, and 3 natural attacks. Some pretty juicy stuff.

What's really awesome is that it's claws have a reach of 10'! If it could swim it'd be THE perfect form.

Grand Lodge

graystone wrote:
EvilTwinSkippy wrote:

I appreciate all the work you've put into this. I've been looking into this as well for a melee Shaman. (Shamans with the Shapeshifting Hex can use Alter Self as a Su ability, starting at Level 2.)

Have you considered also the Sewer Troll (from the Monster Codex)? It's one of the few humanoids w/ the giant subtype that fits the Small/Medium size requirement of Alter Self, but I believe it works. And look what all you get: Darkvision, Low-light vision, Scent, and 3 natural attacks. Some pretty juicy stuff.

What's really awesome is that it's claws have a reach of 10'! If it could swim it'd be THE perfect form.

Wow, I didn't even notice that. Cool!

"Are Sewer Trolls not the best?" [/Archer voice]


graystone wrote:
What's really awesome is that it's claws have a reach of 10'! If it could swim it'd be THE perfect form.

I don't think you can alter self into other thing than a generic troll, which will left the sewer troll out of discussion. But there is room to interpret the subschool so I think it will depend from table to table.

PRD (magic schools, polymorph) wrote:


Unless otherwise noted, polymorph spells cannot be used to change into specific individuals. Although many of the fine details can be controlled, your appearance is always that of a generic member of that creature's type. Polymorph spells cannot be used to assume the form of a creature with a template or an advanced version of a creature.

In addition the polymorph says nothing about obtaining reach of natural attacks. In any case I would note to GM the reach is only when attacking with the claws naked.

This kind of 'breaking the balance' things is what made polymorph spells so powerful in D&D and forced a rebalance of the madness.


The only thing left to add is which attacks have natural reach.


Balacertar wrote:
I don't think you can alter self into other thing than a generic troll, which will left the sewer troll out of discussion. But there is room to interpret the subschool so I think it will depend from table to table.

Reasonably certain this is incorrect, as the relation of sewer troll to troll is the relation of fire giant to hill giant.

They are definitively related, but a different creature with different stats, different entries, different abilities, and different weaknesses (in addition to their lesser regeneration being overcome by fire and acid, they have light blindness).

PRD (magic schools, polymorph) wrote:


Unless otherwise noted, polymorph spells cannot be used to change into specific individuals. Although many of the fine details can be controlled, your appearance is always that of a generic member of that creature's type. Polymorph spells cannot be used to assume the form of a creature with a template or an advanced version of a creature.

The part your bolded first relates to "specific individuals" i.e. you can't become Bub, the breaker; third son of the Wiscrani Sewer Troll West Side, but you can still become a sewer troll.

The second doesn't apply, because the sewer troll isn't a template, and it's not "advanced" in any way - it's an entirely different creature, just like different giants are different from each other. You couldn't become a sewer troll that had more hit dice, or a half-dragon sewer troll, or anything "advanced" or "with a template" like that. And the Advanced Template is right out!

Balacertar wrote:

In addition the polymorph says nothing about obtaining reach of natural attacks. In any case I would note to GM the reach is only when attacking with the claws naked.

This kind of 'breaking the balance' things is what made polymorph spells so powerful in D&D and forced a rebalance of the madness.

The reach thing is kind of interesting... but I don't think it holds up (unless a specific GM wants it to, but I'm trying to cleave as close to RAW as I can with this discussion). The reason is that you gain the natural attack. Full stop. If that natural attack has a longer-than-normal reach, or a shorter-than-normal reach, that's what you get, because that's the attack. If it doesn't, you don't.

I wouldn't worry about polymorph breaking the balance in PF. There are far, far too many other things that do that already (the biggest ones being found in Core).

That said, I can understand wanting to maintain balance. While it's a potent form, I don't consider it game-breaking.


EvilTwinSkippy wrote:

I appreciate all the work you've put into this. I've been looking into this as well for a melee Shaman. (Shamans with the Shapeshifting Hex can use Alter Self as a Su ability, starting at Level 2.)

Have you considered also the Sewer Troll (from the Monster Codex)? It's one of the few humanoids w/ the giant subtype that fits the Small/Medium size requirement of Alter Self, but I believe it works. And look what all you get: Darkvision, Low-light vision, Scent, and 3 natural attacks. Some pretty juicy stuff.

Not yet. Only glanced at a few things in the monster codex but will look at it.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Wanted to point out that lizardfolk have two claw attacks, not one as listed. The only reason only one is shown in the stat block is because his other hand is holding something.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I have "beautified" your cheat sheet, Xedrek, and have added it to the Roleplaying Tools section of Ravingdork's Crazy Character Gallery.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I like the sheet, but it would be nice to have the source for all the various creatures as well. That way you can easily verify that you have the required resources.

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